Cold Atmospheric Gas Plasma Disinfection of Chicken

Atmospheric gas plasmas have potential for commercial meat decontamination, according to research carried out in Spain using chicken meat and skin inoculated with Listeria innocua.
calendar icon 5 August 2011
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The efficacy of cold atmospheric gas plasma disinfection of chicken meat and chicken skin contaminated with Listeria innocua was studied by Estefanía Noriega of the University of Oviedo in Spain with co-workers at Loughborough University in the UK. Their paper is published online in the journal, Food Microbiology.

Gas plasmas generated at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperatures offer a possible decontamination method for poultry products, the researchers explain. They examined the efficacy of cold atmospheric gas plasmas for decontaminating chicken skin and muscle inoculated with Listeria innocua.

Optimisation of operating conditions for maximal bacterial inactivation was first achieved using membrane filters on which L. innocua had been deposited. Higher values of AC voltage, excitation frequency and the presence of oxygen in the carrier gas resulted in the greatest inactivation efficiency, and this was confirmed with further studies on chicken muscle and skin.

Under optimal conditions, a 10-second treatment gave reductions of more than a 3-log in L. innocua on membrane filters, an eight-minute treatment gave a 1-log reduction on skin, and a four-minute treatment gave more than a 3-log reduction on muscle.

These results show that the efficacy of gas plasma treatment is greatly affected by surface topography. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of chicken muscle and skin revealed surface features wherein bacteria could effectively be protected from the chemical species generated within the gas plasma.

In the paper, the researchers discuss the developments in gas plasma technology necessary for its commercial application to foods.

According to Noriega and co-authors following their experiments, atmospheric gas plasmas have potential for commercial meat decontamination.


Noriega, E., G. Shama, A. Laca, M. Díaz and M.G. Kong. 2011. Cold atmospheric gas plasma disinfection of chicken meat and chicken skin contaminated with Listeria innocua. Food Microbiology, 28 (7):1293-1300. doi:10.1016/

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August 2011
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